Bronte Country – visiting the Bronte Sisters home
Yorkshire was the inspiration for all the Bronte sisters. Their classic novels included Charlotte’s Jane Eyre, Emily’s Wuthering Heights and Anne’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Some of the best walks in Yorkshire include Bronte Country in West Yorkshire. The Bronte Parsonage Museum is one of the most popular sites in Yorkshire.
The sisters and their brother Branwell grew up in Haworth, Yorkshire, daughters of Reverend Patrick Bronte, who was an Irish country reverend. A strict churchman he forbade his wife and daughters from wearing any coloured dresses or shoes and was known to destroy a dress that was the wrong colour.
Their mother was originally from Cornwall and Patrick was raised in a mud cabin in C. Down Ireland. He had grown up in a very large and poor family. At 15 Patrick was discovered reading by a local Priest. The priest took to Patrick and his journey to education began.
He managed over the years to get to Cambridge where he was ordained and then onto Yorkshire where he became the Parson at Haworth Village. In an age where the Irish were considered lazy, childish and dirty Patrick didn’t have an easy time at Haworth. The Bronte Parsonage Museum contains many memorabilia from Patrick and the sisters.
The former parsonage and home of the Brontes was converted years ago into the Brontë Parsonage Museum. It now houses the world’s largest collection of Bronte papers, personal possessions and furniture of the family. Haworth is the centre of Bronte Country and it is from here and around here that you will find all the Bronte sites and memories.
The History of Bronte country
The Brontes lives were not easy in Haworth and they were coloured with tragedy. There were actually five Bronte sisters and their brother Branwell. Marie and Elizabeth didn’t live beyond their childhood and their mother died a year after moving to Haworth. Branwell who was a very gifted artist turned to morphine and alcohol to dull his pain and died early in 1848. Shortly after Branwell died Emily passed away from Tuberculosis and Anne died a year later. Only Charlotte was left.
Charlotte did marry Arthur Nicholls who was her father’s Curate but it was against her father’s wishes. She died in 1855 it was believed to be from the awful hyperemesis gravidarum, which was and is a morning sickness that just won’t cease. Patrick their father lived until he was 84.
Haworth is the epitome of an English Village. Set in the haunting backdrop of the Yorkshire moors Haworth’s cobbled streets and old stone houses offer a unique place from which to explore this area of Yorkshire and of course the Bronte legacy.
It was in 1846 that the sisters attempted to publish a volume of poetry under the male names of Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. The sisters were confident that the volume would be well received and as a result, they would win “literary fame”. Unfortunately, that was not to be and the book only sold 2 copies.
They continued their writing efforts and during the following year, each of them published a novel that would win literary acclaim in Britain. Charlotte’s Jane Eyre, Emily’s Wuthering Heights and Anne’s Agnes Grey became so widely read that they were soon established as three of British literary greats.
The dark and brooding environment of the Yorkshire Moors where their inspiration and many of us can still see Heathcliffe and Kathy on those dramatic moor vistas. Charlotte’s inspiration for Jane Eyre was based on the ruins of Wycoller Hall in Lancashire which became Ferndean Manor and Wuthering Heights will always be associated with the ruins of a farmhouse called Top Withins.
At the time of publication, the novels were a sensation because of the dark subject matter but have since gone on to become classics. Wuthering Heights inspired Kate Bush to write the song which has become a classic British pop song.
Visiting the Bronte sisters home
What to see in Haworth
The Bronte Stones
The Bronte Stones are three stones that celebrate the bicentenaries of the sisters. There is also a fourth stone to mark the significance of the literary family. The project was conceived and developed by Michael Stewart and together with the Bradford Literature Festival. Michael Stewart took inspiration from another literary walk and worked with several others to bring the Bronte stones and walk to life.
Michael Stewart, who lives in Thornton, came up with the idea in 2013. He said he had long wanted “my village to receive recognition for its place in the Brontë story … It’s fantastic to see the project come to fruition”. excerpt from The Guardian.
The Brontë Stone
The Brontë Stone is located in the Thornton Cemetery in the shade of the sycamore trees. It overlooks Pinch Beck Valley.
View this post on Instagram
Lucky me. A Saturday with a (different) seldom seen friend. Lots of chatter, an art shop, lovely lunch and then book shop (yes it was Salts Mill) followed by a detour on the way home to see two of the Bronte Stones. These stones are carved by Pip Hall and there are four. I tried a couple of weeks ago to see the Anne stone in Haworth, but it hadn’t been erected because of some h&s issue where the installers wouldn’t absolutely commit to it not toppling over and flattening someone. Happily the Charlotte stone written by Carol Ann Duffy and the Bronte stone by Jeanette Winterson seems to have passed the topple test… ‘Listen to the Wildfell of your heart Do not betray what you love’ #brontestones #bronte200 #thornton #piphall #carolannduffy #jeanettewinterson
The Brontës, by Jeanette Winterson
Fossil record of a miracle
Bone by Bone
Word for Word
Three Women writing the Past into the Future
Line by Line
Listen to the Wildfell of your heart
Do not betray what you love
The earth opens like a book
You are come back to me then?
The Charlotte Stone
The birthplace of the Brontes is in Thornton which is now home to Emily’s a licensed cafe and restaurant. The stone is on the outside wall. The poem has been written by poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy. The birthplace is now home to Emily’s, a fully licensed cafe and restaurant.
Charlotte, by Carol Ann Duffy
Walking the parlour, round round round the table,
miles; dead sisters stragglers till ghosts; retired wretch,
runty, pale, plain C.Brontë; mouth skewed, tooth-rot.
You see you have prayed to stone; unheard, thwarted.
But would yank your heart through your frock,
fling it as a hawk over the moors, flaysome.
So the tiny handwriting of your mind as you pace.
So not female not male like the wind’s voice.
The vice of this place clamps you; daughter; father
who will not see thee wed, traipsing your cold circles
between needlework, bed, sleep’s double-lock.
Mother and siblings, vile knot under the flagstones, biding.
But the prose seethes, will not let you be, be thus;
bog-burst of pain, fame, love, unluck. True; enough.
So your still doll-steps in the dollshouse parsonage.
So your writer’s hand the hand of a god rending the roof.
The Emily Stone
The Emily stone is located in the midst of the wild windswept moorland as it should be, overlooking Haworth. Carved into the side of Ogden Kirk a rugged outcrop of rock above the clough.
Emily, by Kate Bush
She stands outside
A book in her hands
“Her name is Cathy”, she says
“I have carried her so far, so far
Along the unmarked road from our graves
I cannot reach this window
Open it, I pray.”
But his window is a door to a lonely world
That longs to play.
Ah Emily. Come in, come in and stay.
The Anne Stone
The Anne Stone lies in the top right-hand corner of Parson’s Field, a wildflower meadow behind the Brontë Parsonage Museum. Anne is the only Bronte not buried in the family vault under the church she is buried in Scarborough in St. Mary’s Churchyard overlooking the sea.
Anne, by Jackie Kay
These plain dark sober clothes
Are my disguise. No, I was not preparing
For an early death, yours or mine.
You got me all wrong, all the time.
But sisters, I will have the last word,
Write the last line. I am still at sea.
But if I can do some good in this world
I will right the wrong. I am still young.
And the moor’s winds lift my light-dark hair.
I am still here when the sun goes up,
Still here when the moon drops down.
I do not now stand alone.
Travel Guide for Bronte Country
Bronte Country sights in and around Haworth
The Bronte Parsonage Museum
The Brontë Parsonage Museum is, as it should be, a sombre stone Georgian house that still contains the original furniture used by the family. In the sombre Georgian house in which the sisters grew up, it displays original furniture. One of the most haunting pieces is the table with its candle burns and ink stains left from the sisters writing efforts.
The Brontë Parsonage Museum is open every day except 24 – 27 December and during January, when essential conservation work is carried out.
Monday | 10am – 5.30pm
Tuesday | 10am – 5.30pm
Wednesday | 10am – 5.30pm
Thursday | 10am – 5.30pm
Friday | 10am – 5.30pm
Haworth Parish Church
The Haworth Parish Church, St Michael and All Angels, is where the Brontes are buried (except for Anne who was laid to rest in Scarborough) is located next to the parsonage. The Church doesn’t look the same as it did in the Bronte era as it was rebuilt in 1879. The tower though does date back to 1480.
Ponden Hall is a beautifully luxurious B&B in Stanbury, a village near Haworth offers cream tea and tours of the hall once owned by the Heaton family, who were acquaintances of the Brontës. Charlotte, Emily and their brother Branwell used the library, and Emily based parts of Wuthering Heights here.
Patrick was parson at Old Bell Chapel in the village of Thornton before moving to Haworth, and Charlotte, Emily, Branwell and Anne were born in nearby Market Street. The house where the family lived is now Emily’s, a coffee house and delicatessen.
Top Withens and Bronte Waterfall Hike
Starting from Haworth to Top Withens, a ruin may have been the inspiration for Wuthering Heights but even the plaque on the wall of the ruins says “may” and stresses that the building bore no resemblance to the house portrayed in the novel.
The Bronte Bridge has swept away in a flood in 1989 has been rebuilt. From the bridge up to the Bronte Waterfall which was a favourite spot of Charlotte.s where you can see the “Bronte chair”. A Step by Step guide to the hike is available in the Guardian newspaper.
Brontë Walks offer a range of tours and services to help you enjoy the village, the moors and the Brontës. These walks come highly recommended and Johnny is incredibly knowledgeable.
- A guided tour; ‘The Passionate Brontës’
- A range of guided walks up onto the moors, ‘The wild workshop of their imagination’.
- A complete day of Brontë loveliness that combines the two, ‘The Brontë Experience’.
- A driving tour of Brontë Country, which is all of the above and a lot more.
Where to eat and stay in Bronte country
Haworth Old Hall, stands inWest Yorkshire, one of the oldest buildings in the village it dates back to 1621. At the foot of the stunning moors, the Tudor charm has been preserved and it’s a stunning place to stay and eat. They serve light meals to full feasts with all local produce and have gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian menus.
The family-run, 4 Star, 300-year-old coaching inn has a pub, great hotel rooms and serves light snacks in the pub to an a la carte menu. The hotel looks down the famous Haworth cobbled Main Street and is opposite the Parish Church and Bronte Parsonage Museum. Just a short walk and you’re on the famous moors & Yorkshire Pennine Way walked by the Bronte Sisters.
A creative little cafe which is a lovely cafe and pottery painting studio. Cobbles and Clay sits at the top of Haworth Main Street and you can have a nice light lunch and paint some pottery to remind you of your time in Haworth. Rumour has it they serve an excellent cup of Yorkshire tea.
Serving freshly ground coffees and have 15 blends to choose from they also serve their own blends of coffee that are delicious. Don’t forget those scrumptious baked goods are all made in house and you will have a hell of a time choosing just one, and yes they also do a great cup of tea.
Getting to Haworth
By rail: To get to Haworth you can take a train to the town of Keighley. Then take the restored Keighley and Worth Valley railway to Haworth.
Here’s some items that will inspire you to visit Bronte Country
I love this scarf inspired by Wuthering Heights
Brontes Book List
If you have never read a Bronte book here is a guide to all the books they wrote
Jane Eyre (1846)
The Professor (1857)
Wuthering Heights (1847)
The classic and said to be the best adaption on screen for Wuthering Heights with a brooding Tom Hardy as Heathcliffe
Agnes Grey (1847)
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848)
The Works of Patrick Branwell Bronte : An Edition (Vol 1)The three sisters also compiled a number of their poems into a collection of poetry called Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. Currer, Ellis, and Acton were the aliases used by the sisters to disguise their feminine identities.
Here are some books that contain the sisters’ and Branwell’s poetry:
Bronte: Poems (Emily)
The Complete Poems (Emily)
Selected Poems (Charlotte, Emily, Anne, and Branwell)
Charlotte began several novels but never finished them. There is a book called Unfinished Novels that includes these fragmentary novels. The book contains The Story of Willie Ellin, Ashworth, The Moores, and Emma.
What is your favourite Bronte sister novel and have you managed to get to Bronte Country yet?
Pin it to save it